(UNEDITED)Regarding the Aug. 19 guest commentary, "Going Muslim" by Susan Skordos, my family has visited Iran three times. At first, I resented being forced to cover myself up, but soon learned that to be uncovered, would be a mistake, not to mention illegal. I am tall, blond and blue eyed. Being covered meant drawing as little attention to me as possible. I still got stares, but they were stares of curiosity, not animosity. People would quietly say "Allo Americani". Occasionally, someone would chat with us and then invite us to their home for tea. You see, for the last 30 years, the Iranian people haven't seen many foreigners, especially Americans.
In Iran, woman wear a monto (long shirt or jacket) and ruesari (scarf), the more devout women, wear a chador. It is a big round cloth, draped on their heads, and wrapped around their bodies. This is worn in addition to the scarf and monto. I didn't understand how these women could possibly add additional layers onto themselves. I felt sorry for them and a little perplexed. I came to realize if they took them off, it would be like going outside naked. To Westerners, wearing this seems ridiculous and oppressive, and it is if it is forced upon you, but for many Muslim women, to be without a cover is unheard of. That is not to say the majority of Iranian women are happy with the governmental requirement. Most would certainly discard it if they could avoid jail time and/or face slashing.
Showing bigotry to a woman while in hijab, is like scorning an LDS woman for wearing garments, or a nun in her habit. People have a tendency to guard themselves against anything misunderstood. To be Muslim in America is definitely a challenge. I know many Muslim women here in the states, yet very few, wear a scarf (no extra body covering). But for the women who do don the Islamic way of dressing, I'm sure life has difficulties.
I wish we could see that hate and violence inside a human being is the real enemy, no matter what they may or may not have on.